Rookies That Could Make an Instant Impact in 2016

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Rookies usually don’t make an instant impact on our fantasy teams. However, in recent years we’ve seen that change thanks to the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. (2014), Mike Evans (2014), Todd Gurley (2015), and David Johnson (2015), to name a few. Many of these guys carried fantasy teams to their championship, so fantasy owners want to find that mid to late round rookie to take them to a title. Here are some rookies that could end up bringing you to that #footclantitle in 2016.

RB Ezekiel Elliott – Dallas Cowboys

Taken 4th overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, “Zeke” is the 2016 version of Todd Gurley. Gurley was coming off an injury and didn’t fully play until Week 6. The biggest negative is that Zeke is going in the 1st Round of fantasy drafts, and Gurley was going in the 6th Round last year. But, he’s worth the price; running behind one of the best offensive lines in football, and should get the lion’s share of the carries. Zeke can pass protect and catch the ball out of the backfield very well, so this should slot him into an every-down role for Dallas. And while Darren McFadden caught 40 passes in 2015, look for the Cowboys to give most of those to Zeke in 2016.

WR Corey Coleman – Cleveland Browns

The first WR that was taken in the NFL draft should be the #1 rookie WR for fantasy in 2016. The Browns have TE Gary Barnidge and then no one. Coleman is a guy with 4.3 speed and is great after the catch. He also can score TDs, which was proven his last year at Baylor with 20 TDs. With 125 targets left from the departure of Travis Benjamin, look for Coleman to get most of those and take advantage of them.

WR Laquon Treadwell – Minnesota Vikings

Match made in heaven. That’s what Treadwell is to Teddy Bridgewater. Treadwell is that big bodied WR that can go up and get the ball for Teddy. The Vikings are a run heavy offense with Adrian Peterson in the backfield, so don’t expect WR2 numbers this year from Treadwell. But he could be in double digit TDs when the Vikings start using him more and more throughout the season.

RB Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans

Behind Demarco Murray, Henry could get a chance sooner than later. If Murray has a season like he did last season or gets injured, look for Henry to take the job and run with it. He is a beast at 6’3″ 247 lbs. and has 4.5 40-speed. Behind a new and improved line on a team that wants to exotic smashmouth their way to victory. The former Heisman Trophy winner could find himself with a significant workload.

WR Sterling Shepard – New York Giants

The Giants needed someone opposite of Odell Beckham Jr. after the departure of Rueben Randle. Sterling Shepard should step in and produce Week 1. Shepard is a technician as a route runner and should get plenty of opportunity with coverage rolling over to OBJ. In a PPR league, Shepard should get plenty of targets to be a WR3 week to week.

RB DeAndre Washington – Oakland Raiders

For the next two rookies, the situation is what gives them a chance for a big workload year one.

In Washington’s case, he has Latavius Murray ahead of him. Murray had a fringe RB1 last year with 1066 rushing yards and 6 rushing TDs. He also produced well through the air with 41 catches and 232 receiving yards. Washington is a very good receiver out of the backfield, so look for some of those targets from Murray to go to Washington right away. However, if Murray goes down from injury, look for Washington to produce behind a new and improved offensive line.

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RB Wendell Smallwood – Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are another team that has limited RB depth behind their starter, Ryan Mathews. Mathews is a great RB when healthy, and those are the keywords: when healthy. With one season playing all 16 games (2013), the chance for substantial playing time for Smallwood looks more than likely. Smallwood isn’t a tremendous athlete, but with the volume in a West Coast, Doug Pederson offense; he could produce low-end RB2 numbers if given the chance.

Sleepers to keep an eye on:
RB Josh Ferguson, WR Josh Doctson, RB Kenneth Dixon, RB Devontae Booker, TE Austin Hooper, WR Michael Thomas, WR Will Fuller

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